The London Startup Advantage

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This supportive community, that ranges from behemoths like Google, to active and innovative individuals like James Governor, is a testament to the sheer potential of London’s startup tech marketplace.

By Francesca Krihely (Community Manager, MongoDB)

I moved to London in May and after living there for six months, I was pleasantly surprised at the market opportunity and community for startups in London. There have been a number of wildly successful London-based startups, namely Canonical, supporters of the Ubuntu Linux distribution and Last.fm, which was acquired by CBS Media.

But with recent government reforms and increased technology resources in the city, the market opportunity is ripe and London is bound to produce a number of other highly successful tech ventures.

Here are the advantages that London startups can capitalize on:

The Gateway to Europe

Labor, telecommunications and trade laws vary in Europe, and the EU has a number of restrictions that differ from the US. An example here is Pandora, a music service who has struggled to comply with European Royalty laws.

While US-based companies have to work through the red tape, London-based startups can grab European market share. A few examples of this are Justeat.uk (a food-delivery service similar to Seamless web in the US), Gumtree (a classifieds site similar to Craigslist acquired by eBay) and GoCardless (a direct debit API service similar to Stripe).

Government Support

The city government has been tremendously supportive of the growing “tech city” in London’s East end. There are also increasingly promising tax benefits and financial schemes for entrepreneurs in the UK. David Mytton has an excellent post going through more detailed overview of the financial benefits to starting a business in the UK.

VC Support

In September, I attended a Union Square Ventures Happy Hour for their London portfolio companies which included Funding Circle, AMEE, Co-vestor, and foursquare. AMEE and Funding Circle are both based in London, and as the tech world grows, more VCs are looking to invest in London-based startups.

Nine of the top VC firms in London, including Index Ventures, Accel Partners and newbie Passion Capital, recently co-hosted an open office hours at White Bear Yard in Clerkenwell to meet more entrepreneurs.

Technical Talent

London is an international city, and draws in talent from around the world. Much like New York City, there is a lot of fresh talent interested in working for startups and a lot of talented engineers working in finance who are willing to make the switch to more innovative and fast-paced working environments.

Furthermore, the growing startup sector makes it a much less competitive hiring environment that Silicon Valley. As tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon move into London, this will bring a larger pool of talented engineers into the city, all ready for poaching!

A Growing Tech Community

Google has recently invested millions of pounds into a technology community center in East London’s “Tech City”. The site, called Google Campus, is a community meeting space for evening user groups, small conferences and also functions as a co-working space during the daytime.

A number of other non-governmental groups are banding together to make the city a large tech incubator for the next generation of London startups. James Governor, founder of analyst firm Red Monk, has recently founded Shoreditch Works, a co-working space and create opportunities for youth in London’s borough of Hackney to experiment with careers in Tech. Finally, General Assembly, the tech campus based in New York City, opened an office in London in April 2012, and has been growing its offerings of education classes for the tech community.

This supportive community, that ranges from behemoths like Google, to active and innovative individuals like James Governor, is a testament to the sheer potential of London’s startup tech marketplace.

This post was originally posted at Francesca Krihely’s blog. Photo credit: Torcello Trio on Flickr.

Women 2.0 readers: In your experience, how is it like starting up in London? Let us know in the comments!


franciumAbout the guest blogger: Francesca Krihely is the community marketing manager for MongoDB at 10gen. In this role, Francesca supports mongoDB user groups around the world to grow the community, connect developers and determine best strategies for ensuring user success. In a past life, Francesca was a talk director and a community engagement specialist for WOBC, Oberlin College and community radio. Follow her on Twitter at @francium.